Arusha Mental Health Trust

Facilitating Mental Health Care in Arusha

Violance among Arusha children.

According to the findings of a national survey conducted in Tanzania in 2009 by UNICEF, in collaboration with Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, nearly 3 out of every 10 females aged 13 to 24 years in Tanzania reported experiencing at least one incident of sexual violence before the age of 18 years, while about 1 in 6 boys have also suffered such violence. Taking into account that the population of Tanzania is 40 million people and half of the population is below 18 years old, the numbers are staggering. “Tanzania is the first country with the courage to expose the full extent of child abuse among boys and girls,” UNICEF official Andy Brooks told the BBC.

Violence/ Abuse is categorised in 3 forms;

  • Sexual Violence/ Abuse.
  • Physical Violence /Abuse.
  • Emotional Violence/ Abuse.

Arusha Mental Health Trust is has advocated for, and worked with, children who have been affected by abuse in Arusha for some time.  Abuse and its effects have become a common “cry for help” for many families, schools and orphanages. AMHT has worked with many families, schools and orphanages to assist individuals who have been victims of violence and abuse in their childhood.

In the early months of 2014 a well-known school in Arusha began to address the need for intervention against violence and abuse. The school administration had noticed that almost half of the students in Form I to Form VI, had been abused during their childhood; physically, sexually or emotionally. AMHT provided training for 600 students dividing them into two different groups (gender wise). The training covered the following topics: what is abuse; types of abuse and how to report abuse. The facilitators noticed some of the students were very bitter, especially the female students, since they had been victims of abuse in their childhood. After the training AMHT received referrals from the school which only served to highlight the prevalence of abuse amongst children in the Arusha area and the need to provide care for those affected by it.

AMHT works hand in hand with several orphanages, and 90% of the abuse cases received in AMHT annually have been from children in care homes around Arusha and beyond to the Kilimanjaro Region. In the Kilimanjaro Region, AMHT recently conducted 2 days training on abuse in an orphanage located in Moshi. There is a huge need to promote awareness among the citizens of Arusha; on how to handle abuse cases, especially the reporting system, what is abuse and where the victims can get help.

It is our hope that we will be able to expand and develop this much needed aspect of our work.

NB: It is important to know that just because the victim “didn’t say no,” it does not mean that they meant “yes.” When someone does not resist an unwanted sexual advance, it does not mean that they consented.